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by Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)
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In the first part of the Annual Iftar of the Interfaith Encounter Association, we were happy to host the monthly gathering of "Praying Together in Jerusalem". As sunset approached we gathered around the tables, nearly 130 people – participants of the interfaith encounter groups and guests, from the Holy Land and abroad. As it already became a tradition – the food was brought by our friends from Hebron, who also made sure to bring kosher food. Lively conversations among table neighbors accompanied the joint eating. We were privileged to host a special guest, Sheikh Hafiz Abdullah Muhammad from London, who also delivered short blessing for this special event. Another special aspect was the "Interfaith Encounter Band", who works for already over a year, who played for us songs in Hebrew and Arabic. Many people came forward to stress who wonderful and moving was the event for them and this was our biggest award!

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People were invited for 22:30, but started arriving at the Tower of David around 22:00. Interested journalists took advantage of that for interviews. When I was asked about the connection between the mass singing of the Kululam event and the encounter of religious leaders I responded that when singing together every one of the many people who join intuitively understands that the alt and baritone voices are not in competition but complement each other in harmony. Our work with the religious leaders is to bring the same awareness for the coexistence of different people and communities in the Holy Land, to bring wide consciousness to this awareness and to leverage for the joining of many.

 

The whole evening was inspired by the visit of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, the General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama – the world’s largest Muslim organization with over 60 million followers, which teaches Islam of love and compassion.

 

At 23:00 we gathered in the designated room. We originally planned for an intimate encounter of around 20 religious leaders but found nearly 80 religious and social leaders in the room… Due to the limited time we had, we decided to organize people in two concentric circles, with Pac Yahya, his colleagues from Indonesia and some of the religious leaders in the inner circle. We were happy to include in the inner circle also Minister Zeev Elkin, Minister of Environmental Protection and of Jerusalem Affairs.

 

The conversation question was how religion and religious discourse can serve as a bridge to mutual understanding, compassion and peace. There were two lines of responses: one stressed the need to revisit some of the common interpretations of religious texts, hopefully finding valid interpretations that will be more inclusive. The other emphasized the role of interfaith encounter and joint study of religion in building bridges between communities.

 

At 01:00 we concluded the conversation and joined nearly 1,000 people for rehearsals for the joint mass singing of Bob Marley's song "One Love" with the Kululam team, ending two and a half hours later with most impressive singing.

 

Here are a few links from the event:

1. Two press pieces:

http://m.ynet.co.il/Articles/5287886

 

https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/109561/israeli-music-project-koolulam-brings-jews-christians-and-muslims-together-at-tower-of-david/

 

2. The Kululam mass singing event:

https://www.facebook.com/interfaithea/videos/2186960011558730/

 

3. Making of the event (general):

https://www.facebook.com/towerofdavid/videos/1966451363418941/

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Clara started with an exercise in which participants were asked to go around the room and when meeting someone look them in the eyes for a few moments. The goal was both for people to get out of their comfort zone and to connect with other people.

 

Clara described four principles that reflect the perception that peace exists, therefore does not need to be built needs dissolving of its obstacles:

  1. Peace already exists
  2. Peace is an inner process
  3. Peace means ceasing the againstness – despite disagreement
  4. Peace is a choice – available in any situation

The idea is to accept what cannot be changed and live peacefully with what exists. It is fine to remain with resistance and disagreement, but give up hatred.

 

This led to a long conversation about the way to forgive without covering the disapproval of the act. One of the participans shared how she could forgive her father who abused her as a child. Lack of forgiveness leaves the act inside me and makes me punish myself.

 

Forgiveness has three stages: expressing anger at what happened, forgiving and freedom.

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Around 60 people came on 6 September to the annual gathering of "Interfaith Encounter Day" that took place this year too at the Felm Center in Jerusalem.

 

This year we added an artistic component – an artist led a process of joint creation of a bench and a group of participants worked with him. Other participants enjoyed refreshments and informal conversations, with people they knew and with new people.

At six we held a short session of blessings. Rev. Seppo Paulasaari welcomed us in the name of Felm and stressed how much they are happy cooperating with IEA. Then Dr. Yehuda Stolov greeted the people and stressed the unique opportunity for people who attend encounters of one group to meet people from other groups and learn how they work, and for new people to get to know IEA in a special way.

Then participants talked with each other in encounter circles. They got to know each other personally as well as shared and learned about the ways various groups work.

At seven thirty we invited people for a light supper.

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Eating
Eating

Nearly 70 people came to the joint annual Iftar of the Interfaith Encounter Association took, on Tuesday, 12.6.18, at the Felm Center in Jerusalem.

 

People came from near and far – Jews, Muslims and Christians members of the various encounter groups. We were privileged to have also guests from abroad: Indonesia, Morocco and Kuwait. The food was donated and brought by Fahed and Jihad from Hebron.

 

We slowly gathered for half an hour, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. When sunset approached, a bit before 8pm, we sat down and ate together the delicious food, while continuing to chat with the people we eat with.

Guests table
Guests table

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Organization Information

Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA)

Location: Jerusalem, Israel - Israel
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @interfaithea@
Project Leader:
Dr. Yehuda Stolov
Executive Director
Jerusalem, Israel

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